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A Win is A Win is A Win is A Win

By Jeff Koch on December 20, 2009.

The narrative of tonight’s game played out like so many games this season. We play well for most of the first half, but slip a bit heading into intermission. Then we come out and play an atrocious third quarter, completely giving the game away. Finally, we make a strong push in the 4th quarter.

Thankfully, this time our push was enough, just barely getting us over the hump and allowing us to escape with a one point victory. Honestly, we played very good for 2 3/4 quarters; we played poorly for 1/4 of a quarter (the last 3 mins of the second, when they went on an 8-0 run and crawled back into the game); and we played atrociously for 1 quarter. Setting aside the third quarter, though, I thought we played smart and hard on the defensive side of the ball. They scored 46 of their 99 points in a 15 minute span, which means over the other 33, they only scored 53, which is very good. On offense we were pretty bad (and Sean Elliott made some astute observations about our ball movement and hesitation in decision making), but we were aggressive, tallying 18 offensive rebounds and 38 free throws (though we shot horrendously from the foul line). Basically, we did just enough to win.

Honestly, I’m OK with just barely beating a pretty mediocre team missing their best player at home. When building towards a championship, there are things bigger than wins and losses. You have to learn how to win close games, how to close out teams in the playoffs, how to pull out victories even when everything is seemingly working against you. Tonight was the first time all season that I felt like our team was able to eke out a close win, to do everything that was necessary down the stretch of a close game to pull out the victory. It was the first time that we felt like a team in the endgame. It was a reminder of the Spurs of the last decade, the team that just knew how to win.

Bill Simmons has a theory about winning championships: it’s all about reps. You just have to do things enough times to really learn how to do them, including winning (and winning close games). The Spurs have an abundance of talent this year, but a deficiency in reps. Jefferson and Hill and Blair and McDyess and Bogans and Mason, Jr. haven’t been through the battles, haven’t had to execute down 1 with ten seconds left in a do or die game. This team needs more close games, more games that allow them to learn about each other and to learn to trust each other. They need more reps with each other.

I’m not saying I want more close games like this against the dregs of the East; but it is nice to finally see us win a close game. Ah, the memories.

Looking Forward:

The Clippers come to town Monday night. We just beat them in LA last week pretty handily. Let’s hope for the same Monday. We really need to capitalize on this stretch of games over the next few weeks and build up our wins.

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  1. John December 20, 2009

    Thank God the won the game. They really needed as it is already critical time for the Spurs to start improving their standing in the Western Conference. The team needs to perform better next time because against tougher opponent, they can't afford to let loose like they did against the Pacers.

    I know that Manu's overall performance so far this season is far from his best. Must have been because of the many injuries that he had to endured over the last one year. But let's give the time he needs to get back to his usual self.

    After all, the Spurs are more than just Manu or even Timmy and Tony. It's about time the rest buck up and provide more support for the Big Three.


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